Novak Djokovic went into the French Open as the tournament third seed, but he is on the brink of a Grand Slam record and looks a good pick to prevail on the clay in Paris.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks Carlos Alcaraz has tightened his grip on the ATP French Open title. The pre-tournament favorite is now as short as -154 with some bookmakers, while Novak Djokovic is rated as a +225. The other semi-final, between Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud is more open but neither is given much of a chance of eventually winning the title.
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ATP French Open Betting Briefing
The absence of Rafael Nadal was expected to lead to a more open competition at Roland Garros this year and that has certainly been the case, but the top two men in the betting going into the tournament are still standing and meet in a blockbuster semi-final on Friday.
The semi-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic would have been a fitting final, but it will still provide a gripping spectacle, with the winner likely to go into the final as a strong favorite against whichever player emerges from the Casper Rudd versus Alexander Zverev semi-final.
Alcaraz Can Make a Statement
Carlos Alcaraz has been challenging Novak Djokovic at the top of the ATP Tour rankings all year, and the number one spot has changed hands four times, but on-court, they have only met once before, last year, in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters, in a match that saw Alcaraz come from behind to win 2-1.
The tennis world has been eagerly awaiting the rematch, and while this game arguably deserves to be the tournament finale, it will be no less fascinating for coming at the semi-final stage.
If the match were determined by experience, then it would be no contest. Alcaraz is fighting for his second Grand Slam title, while Djokovic is chasing a record 23rd. Yet Alcaraz is in a formidable run of form at the big tournaments. The 2022 US Open winner missed the Australian Open in January but since returning to action in February has reached five ATP finals and won four.
A win here would make a powerful statement about the immediate future of the ATP Tour, but in order to achieve that, Alcaraz will have to beat Djokovic and the winner of the other semi-final and his current odds do not reflect the difficulty of the task facing him.
Don’t Write Off Djokovic
Novak Djokovic started the season with a bang, winning in Adelaide before landing the Australian Open title, but his form since then has been patchy to say the least, particularly on the clay court swing. He was knocked out early in Banja Luka and Monte Carlo and made it only as far as the last eight in Rome.
Going into this tournament as the third seed also meant that he was lined up to face Alcaraz in the semi-finals, rather than the final, as he would have preferred. Yet, it would be a mistake to write off the 22-time Grand Slam winner, given what we have seen in Paris this week.
He has shrugged off his ordinary form going into the tournament and reached the semi-final stage, dropping only one set along the way. That came in the opening set of the quarter-final against Karen Khachanov. The Russian also took Djokovic to a tiebreak in the second set, but the Australian Open winner came through that test in emphatic style.
In fact, Djokovic has won all five of the tiebreaks he has faced at Roland Garros, demonstrating once again his impressive ability to play his best tennis in the biggest moments. Of the two big favorites here, Dkjokovic offers by far the most value.
Can the Underdogs Spring a Surprise?
Whichever of Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev emerges from their semi-final will be a big underdog in the final, whichever opponent they face, but bettors will be keenly studying their form in the hope that one of them might be able to spring a surprise at big odds.
Both players came into the tournament in mediocre form, while both also had painful memories of Roland Garros last year. Ruud was taken apart by Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, while Zverev was forced to withdraw with injury in the second set of the final against the Spanish legend.
Yet both have shaken off those factors and produced some excellent tennis in Paris this week. Ruud has dropped just three sets on his way to the last four, while Zverev has only dropped two. Zverev holds the edge over Ruud in head-to-head meetings, winning two of their three matches, and given that he was matching Nadal last year before injury, he has to be worth a bet at huge odds.